Free Lubbock Hugs at Lubbock Pride
I asked a mom why she was involved in creating "Free Lubbock Hugs." Instead of getting a few lines of text to write a blog, she spilled out everything.
I cannot say how good, empathetic and important this movement is. If I can hug another human being and make them feel a little less isolated, then I'm all about it. So I can certainly identify with this mothers story. Enjoy, and hug someone today!
Can you remember a time you reached out for a hug?
Were you a child that fell off your bike and needed your mother’s healing arms? Was it a time you received tragic news, and the only comfort was in the arms of a loved one? Were you celebrating that long-awaited accomplishment and the hug released emotions that couldn’t be contained? Was it yesterday, when you returned home from a long workday and gently squeezed your spouse in a greeting of “I’m finally home”? Was your favorite hug holding your newborn child for the first time? Each hug is a gesture of love, friendship, comfort, healing, celebration, or greeting.
I was recently asked what my reason was for starting Free Lubbock Hugs. That is an easy answer: My daughter. She “came out” to me in the middle of her sophomore year of high school, on her 16th birthday to be exact. I guess on some level, in a small way, I always knew. I made sure that I let her not only know but truly feel, that I was going to be there for her. It was beautiful to watch her adjust to the world with her newfound freedom to be her true self.
Fast forward: I took her to watch the movie Love, Simon. There is a scene where Simon’s mother explained what I had been telling my own daughter all along. (Mom consoles Simon “These last few years, it’s almost like I could feel you holding your breath,” she tells her son. “You get to exhale now, Simon. You get to be more you than you’ve been in a very long time.”) With tears in my eyes, she and I shared a look that only a mother and her child could even begin to explain. It is a feeling of total acceptance.
Fast forward again: One Sunday morning in July 2018, I was scrolling Facebook when I came across an article about “Free Mom Hugs”. A wonderful woman (Sara Cunningham) had started a group of moms who would be “official huggers” at different PRIDE events around America. �� I thought, “I wonder if Lubbock has a group like that….?” A quick Google search revealed nothing. So, I started doing a little more research and found out that, not only was this a growing event, but there wasn’t ANYTHING like it in TEXAS (at the time)! I am not one to sit back and wait. I knew that “Free Mom Hugs” was already established, and I knew more than just moms would want to give out hugs.
That same Sunday morning in July 2018, I created “FREE LUBBOCK HUGS”.
By evening that same day, I created a Facebook group and people immediately began to join the cause. I contacted Lubbock Pride via Facebook and asked about providing a booth at their events to give “Free Lubbock Hugs”. They not only agreed, but they donated the booth! By that evening, I had people that wanted to JOIN in and START HUGGING!!! It was truly a blessing to see how FAST this happened! I do not think that I was prepared for the snowball effect of this.
Our first PRIDE event as FREE LUBBOCK HUGS was amazing! I had 27 people volunteer their time and hugs. We had shirts, smiles, and more hugs than I had ever imagined! After the event was over, I got in my car, sweaty, hot, and covered in glitter. My heart overflowed with love. There are no words to accurately describe the depths of my emotions. I knew as my mind replayed the day, I had been a part of something life-changing. I had grown men come and ask for a hug and then break down in tears because it had been years since they had a real hug. Teenagers saying with tears in their eyes, I wish my mom would hug me. Those hugs were a simple embrace for me and a real connection for them. For that, I am forever changed.
Since PRIDE 2018, my home has been a safe space for many of my daughter’s friends to be them self. Identify as they feel, and be able to feel HOME. Lots of patio laughs, snacks, and 2onic cups found around my house. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Getting ready for PRIDE 2019, our little group of 27 had blown up to over 200 people. I have no idea how many will be joining us at PRIDE 2019 (August 24). I invite anyone to join who would LOVE to be apart of something amazing!!!
I ask again…when was the last time you reached out for a hug?
For me it was wrapping my entire pride, joy, understanding, and support around my daughter, and the sons and daughters of others, with unconditional love in the form of… a Free Hug.
Lubbock PRIDE happens Saturday, August 24th at Maxey Park. You can visit their Facebook page for more information.